Amid the chaotic American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the concerns of many have turned to the fate of girls and women under the newly-installed leadership, given its historically barbaric treatment of females, and a Taliban spokesperson just warned the United States against making any attempt to coerce a change in their cultural beliefs, as the Washington Examiner reports.
On Friday, Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen declared to Fox News in response to growing concerns about the potential plight of women in Afghanistan that “there will be no issue about women’s rights,” but he also emphasized his opposition to Western notions that “women should have an education without [a] hijab,” referencing the traditional Muslim head covering.
“That is a change of culture,” Shaheen continued, “Our culture…[women] can receive education with hijab. They can work with hijab.”
Despite those attempts to assuage the world’s concerns about the status of women and girls in Afghanistan now that American influence is gone, Shaheen interjected an alarming caveat.
“There will be no issue about the women’s rights. No problem about their education, their work. But we should not be after changing each other’s culture as we are not intending to change your culture, you should not be changing our culture.”
Sadly, much skepticism remains about the likelihood that women and girls in Afghanistan will be able to continue their careers and educational paths as established over the past 20 years. As the Examiner noted, many of those who lived under prior Taliban leadership point out that in the previous era, women could not appear in public unless escorted by a male family member, could not work, and could not receive formal education, under penalty of beatings, or even execution.
It was not long after Kabul fell to the Taliban insurgents last month that members of that group were spotted defacing images of women in advertisements on buildings, leading to additional concerns about the mistreatment about to befall the country’s females.
Worries about the plight of women in Afghanistan have been echoed by a number of prominent women’s rights advocates, such as Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, fashion mogul Diane von Furstenberg, and actress Charlize Theron, all of whom joined forces to implore the Biden administration to take concrete steps to safeguard the gains made by Afghan women over the last two decades, as Axios noted.
As a result of the Biden administration’s hasty exit from Afghanistan and apparent disinterest in the consequences for the women and girls who remain, as former President George W. Bush put it, “Afghan women and girls are going to suffer unspeakable harm,” and that is something for which the current president must be held to account.